This course will offer an advanced survey of American literature between 1910-1939 and will introduce students to a variety theoretical approaches to modernism. Our lectures, class discussions, and seminar presentations (the format will be mixed) will address some of the following questions: What was modernism? What was the relationship between formal experimentation in literature and formal experimentation in the visual arts? What was the relationship between literary modernism and social modernity (phenomena like urbanization, war, and economic depression) in the U.S.? What was the relationship between literature and mass mediated culture (newspapers, comicstrips, film, and the like) during this period? How did America modernists deal with questions of race and gender? Was the revolution of the word in any way related to social revolution? Why are writers like Hemingway and Fitzgerald famous and writers like Michael Gold, Tom Kromer, and Kenneth Fearing almost entirely forgotten?
We will read works by Stein, Anderson, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, West, Hurston, Gold, Kromer, Dos Passos, and others. The course will also have a fairly extensive theoretical component and students will be required to read and watch a number of films from the period on their own. Requirements: in-class presentations, honors level paper, possibly an oral exam.